“Ireland is a strong advocate of the system of collective international security enshrined in the United Nations Charter,” Ireland’s ambassador to the UN, Richard Ryan, told the Security Council last week. “Under that system, the Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.”
Ryan’s address to the UN came in advance of a likely compromise Security Council resolution aimed at resolving the crisis over allegations that Iraq is stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.
In what was one of the most significant Irish foreign policy statements at the UN since the Gulf War, the Irish ambassador made it clear that he expected collective UN action rather than any unilateral, or bilateral, action involving just the U.S., or the U.S. and Britain.
“Ireland considers that it becomes all of us, whether serving on the council or not, to respect in every way the integrity of the council in the exercise of its duty,” Ryan said.
He said the council had the right and the responsibility under the UN Charter to make the necessary judgment if and when its decisions were not respected or implemented in full.
“It is for the Council to decide on the appropriate response,” Ryan said.
Ireland currently holds one of 10 rotating seats on the 15-member Security Council and will be in a position to vote on a now expected compromise resolution agreed by the five permanent members, the U.S. Britain, France, Russia and China.
In his address, Ryan expressed Ireland’s concern over Iraq’s ignoring of successive UN resolutions aimed at resolving the issues over its weapons program.
“It is a matter of grave concern when any member state ignores the will of the international community and continues over many years to disregard the resolutions of the council,” he said.
“In the case of Iraq, Ireland has long been concerned that legally binding obligations imposed under Security Council resolutions remain unimplemented,” Ryan added.
He said that Ireland welcomed the fact that President Bush came to the United Nations and laid before it the concerns of the U.S. regarding the threat posed by Iraq’s failure to comply with its obligations under Security Council resolutions.
“It is right that the Security Council give these concerns the most careful consideration,” he said.
Ryan urged Iraq to “make it clear that the inspectors will be allowed immediate and complete access to all parts of the country, including presidential sites.”
Such access, Ryan said, was necessary if the inspections were to have the necessary credibility among the international community.
“Iraq should, without further delay, confirm that it accepts, and will facilitate, all the practical arrangements required for the conduct of inspections,” the Irish ambassador said.
Ireland believed that the inspectors should enter Iraq as soon as possible, and begin the process of disarmament
“We also believe that if Iraq, despite its recent commitment, again fails to cooperate with inspectors, the council must, as the secretary-general [Kofi Annan] said, face its responsibilities,” Ryan said.
Ryan said that as a member of the Security Council Ireland was conscious of the overwhelming wish in the international community that a solution is found through peaceful means and in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.
Ryan said the impending Security Council resolution should insist on unfettered access for UN arms inspectors, clarify the modalities, remove ambiguities and facilitate their work so as to ensure effective inspection of all sites.
Ryan said that the resolution should leave no doubt that Iraq must come into compliance and do so without delay.
The resolution, he said, should make it clear that the council would take any necessary decision to enforce compliance if Iraq did not cooperate.
“The government of Iraq has it in its power to remove the present tensions and end the suffering of its people,” Ryan said. “All it has to do is to meet in full and without delay its obligations under Security Council resolutions. It should do so without any further prevarication.”
A spokesman at the Irish Mission to the UN in New York said this week that the ambassador’s speech was a clear signal of Ireland’s view that the leading role of the Security Council in dealing with situations, such as that now pitting the U.S. against Iraq, had to be maintained.